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'The race for space': capitalism, the country and the city in Britain under Covid 19

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'The race for space' : capitalism, the country and the city in Britain under Covid 19. / Boyce Kay, Jilly; Wood, Helen.

In: Continuum, Vol. 36, No. 2, 31.03.2022, p. 274-288.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

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Boyce Kay J, Wood H. 'The race for space': capitalism, the country and the city in Britain under Covid 19. Continuum. 2022 Mar 31;36(2):274-288. Epub 2021 Nov 24. doi: 10.1080/10304312.2021.2001435

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Boyce Kay, Jilly ; Wood, Helen. / 'The race for space' : capitalism, the country and the city in Britain under Covid 19. In: Continuum. 2022 ; Vol. 36, No. 2. pp. 274-288.

Bibtex

@article{54347b9719d94e65bb96f094c76e37ab,
title = "'The race for space': capitalism, the country and the city in Britain under Covid 19",
abstract = "This article draws on the work of Raymond Williams (1973) to argue that under covid-19 the dominant {\textquoteleft}ways of seeing{\textquoteright} the countryside and the city in Britain have been a key way of obscuring the structural violence of capitalism through which the virus is experienced. Cultural narratives of {\textquoteleft}exodus{\textquoteright} from urban areas have abounded in British media, fuelling a material {\textquoteleft}race for space{\textquoteright} as the middle class rush to buy up rural properties. Across social media, the {\textquoteleft}cottagecore{\textquoteright} aesthetic has proliferated, offering privatised solutions to the crisis through nostalgic imagery of pastoral escape. Nineteenth century discourses of the city in which bodies become transcoded as {\textquoteleft}dirt{\textquoteright} were rearticulated: the racialized bodies of migrant workers were framed as {\textquoteleft}modern slaves{\textquoteright} in the {\textquoteleft}dark factories{\textquoteright} of Leicester; this became the nation{\textquoteright}s {\textquoteleft}dirty secret{\textquoteright} which needed to be {\textquoteleft}rooted out{\textquoteright}{\textquoteright} and blamed for the spread of the virus. We argue that these binary narratives and aesthetics of a bountiful, white countryside and an infested, racialized city are working to obscure the deep structural causes of poverty, inequality and immiseration. We develop Williams{\textquoteright}s analysis to show how these cultural imaginaries also help to sustain the gendered and racialized division of labour under capitalism, arguing that the country-city distinction, and the material inequalities it obscures, ought to become a more central focus for cultural studies itself. ",
keywords = "Covid 19, enclosures, Raymond Williams, country and the city, capitalism",
author = "{Boyce Kay}, Jilly and Helen Wood",
year = "2022",
month = mar,
day = "31",
doi = "10.1080/10304312.2021.2001435",
language = "English",
volume = "36",
pages = "274--288",
journal = "Continuum",
issn = "1030-4312",
publisher = "Taylor and Francis Ltd.",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - 'The race for space'

T2 - capitalism, the country and the city in Britain under Covid 19

AU - Boyce Kay, Jilly

AU - Wood, Helen

PY - 2022/3/31

Y1 - 2022/3/31

N2 - This article draws on the work of Raymond Williams (1973) to argue that under covid-19 the dominant ‘ways of seeing’ the countryside and the city in Britain have been a key way of obscuring the structural violence of capitalism through which the virus is experienced. Cultural narratives of ‘exodus’ from urban areas have abounded in British media, fuelling a material ‘race for space’ as the middle class rush to buy up rural properties. Across social media, the ‘cottagecore’ aesthetic has proliferated, offering privatised solutions to the crisis through nostalgic imagery of pastoral escape. Nineteenth century discourses of the city in which bodies become transcoded as ‘dirt’ were rearticulated: the racialized bodies of migrant workers were framed as ‘modern slaves’ in the ‘dark factories’ of Leicester; this became the nation’s ‘dirty secret’ which needed to be ‘rooted out’’ and blamed for the spread of the virus. We argue that these binary narratives and aesthetics of a bountiful, white countryside and an infested, racialized city are working to obscure the deep structural causes of poverty, inequality and immiseration. We develop Williams’s analysis to show how these cultural imaginaries also help to sustain the gendered and racialized division of labour under capitalism, arguing that the country-city distinction, and the material inequalities it obscures, ought to become a more central focus for cultural studies itself.

AB - This article draws on the work of Raymond Williams (1973) to argue that under covid-19 the dominant ‘ways of seeing’ the countryside and the city in Britain have been a key way of obscuring the structural violence of capitalism through which the virus is experienced. Cultural narratives of ‘exodus’ from urban areas have abounded in British media, fuelling a material ‘race for space’ as the middle class rush to buy up rural properties. Across social media, the ‘cottagecore’ aesthetic has proliferated, offering privatised solutions to the crisis through nostalgic imagery of pastoral escape. Nineteenth century discourses of the city in which bodies become transcoded as ‘dirt’ were rearticulated: the racialized bodies of migrant workers were framed as ‘modern slaves’ in the ‘dark factories’ of Leicester; this became the nation’s ‘dirty secret’ which needed to be ‘rooted out’’ and blamed for the spread of the virus. We argue that these binary narratives and aesthetics of a bountiful, white countryside and an infested, racialized city are working to obscure the deep structural causes of poverty, inequality and immiseration. We develop Williams’s analysis to show how these cultural imaginaries also help to sustain the gendered and racialized division of labour under capitalism, arguing that the country-city distinction, and the material inequalities it obscures, ought to become a more central focus for cultural studies itself.

KW - Covid 19

KW - enclosures

KW - Raymond Williams

KW - country and the city

KW - capitalism

U2 - 10.1080/10304312.2021.2001435

DO - 10.1080/10304312.2021.2001435

M3 - Journal article

VL - 36

SP - 274

EP - 288

JO - Continuum

JF - Continuum

SN - 1030-4312

IS - 2

ER -